Healing Bulimia and Addictive Eating (Part 1) - Christine Kane

I was invited to be a guest speaker in a teleseminar on healing bulimia. Heather Fougnier is a fellow blogger and coach who has dedicated her career to work/life balance and health issues. She organized this seminar, and it was an honor to participate and share my own experiences with healing an eating disorder and fumbling my way towards a creative and happy life.

I’ve written about bulimia and eating disorders in the past, and I’m now writing this as a follow-up to the discussion I had with this group of powerful women. I hope this will help other people who are healing this same issue.

Admitting to Bulimia

I am frequently approached by women who are startled that I openly admit to having been bulimic. I guess it’s not hard to do this now because I don’t have any judgment of myself for having gone through it. It’s history. And I can honestly say that it no longer holds power over me.

It’s not that I don’t have days where what I call “bulimic thoughts” take over. (Read: anxiety and fear.) And it’s not that I don’t have moments where I catch myself using food to “numb” something. But it’s rare now. It doesn’t own me. I see the whole thing as a gift, and now I want to help other people as much as I can.

(Of course, these days, what I might be embarrassed to admit is how many times a day I crawl into my dog’s bed and sing little songs into her ear while she looks away and sighs.)

Expert Advice Versus Wisdom

I don’t claim to be an expert. And on the other hand, I do claim to be an expert. I am an expert of my own experience with bulimia. I went through it with eyes wide open. It has given me wisdom. That is what I offer here.

All the degrees and upper and lower case letters after your name make you an expert only on one level. A mental level. That is, knowing a lot about the disease. But until you’ve either experienced it or gone through it or worked with lots of people in it, all the mental knowledge in the world doesn’t create an expert. The best experts are those who have gone through the deep process that calls out a wisdom that is universal. It has very little to do with knowing what pills the pharmaceutical company tells you to prescribe.

A Few Ideas About Healing

Even though I’ve written lots of blogs with steps and how-to’s, mostly I don’t believe in steps or how-to’s. My experience as a songwriter, performer and observer of nature has taught me that virtually nothing is linear. Careers aren’t linear, and yet counselors make college students map out five-year plans. (Which don’t allow for serendipity or grace.) Shrubs don’t naturally grow in rows, and yet muggles plant them in orderly lines to create the illusion of control. (And don’t even get me started on ornamental cabbage!)

Still, I understand that, as humans, we need to articulate things linearly so we can grasp them. If every teacher said, “It’s all too big. You’ll see how it works once you go through it,” then no one would learn. So, I’ve compiled a few ideas about healing bulimia. These are pointers. They can point in a direction, but ultimately you will find your own way. I hope to encourage you simply that you CAN do this. Part 2 will be a post of these ideas.

One last note: Coincidentally, best-selling author Geneen Roth was a guest in a different teleseminar this week, in which I participated. One of the many wise things she said was, “How people express themselves with food is a microcosm of how they live, and what they believe they deserve to have.” I nodded to myself as she said this because as I healed, I allowed myself to taste food, to experience the depth of food, and to relish the best possible sustenance while rejecting the model of stuffing mere ingredients into my body. I learned to savor, experience, and deserve great food, and subsequently, a great life.

(Geneen is a fabulous writer. My favorite book of hers is Appetites. I also recommend When Food is Love. Actually, just take a look at them all!)

Check in tomorrow for Part 2!

  • Michelle Hanisch

    I’ve worked with a lot of women with bulimia and sometimes have a similar relationship with food myself only not to the same extreme. I think it’s amazing that you have recovered. I use your story as an inspiration to my clients. When they’re sitting in front of me in the darkest of places, losing hope that they will ever be free from this torturous addiction, I tell them of your story and direct them to your blog. I have so much compassion for having an addiction to something you can’t stop taking. I can also see how easy it would be to fall into it. I often turn to food when I feel lonely, tired, pissed off, rejected, hurt. Only I can stop & I’m not consumed by guilt & shame & self-loathing the next day. One of the things that I’ve found to be helpful with dealing with the depression, anxiety and urgency to binge has been mindfulness. If you have any questions on that please feel free to contact me: http://www.healgrowtransform.com.au and email me

  • julie

    i’ve never been bulimic, but i crawl in my dog’s bed and sing in her ear ALL the time!

  • Karen Armstrong

    Good job. I’m pretty much impressed with the information.

  • Kate

    So what’s the difference between willpower and “setting an intent?” If willpower doesn’t work for addictions, how is intent-setting different?

  • Autumn Dawn

    We have all been sick but one thing that gets us through is people like you, play in Buffalo, NY they would love you…one sugjestion would be the “Town Ballroom”. I just moved back from Charlotte, NC and I love you!

    Stay kind and when we see eachother again I will outbeat your bad man stories!


  • christine

    Karen, Thanks for the thoughts. Sounds like your working on lots of big stuff. I’ll keep you and Steven in my prayers. I would encourage that when you set your intent, you set it for healing and power… rather than “getting rid of” the illness. Remember that what we resist persists. Healing bulimia for me had nothing to do with getting rid of it. It was about living as a whole human being, and slowly allowing the imbalance to shift. And now, I’m grateful for the lessons it taught me and I wouldn’t ask for it to have been any different. I hope that makes sense…

  • Karen

    I have had anorexia since I was 12 That is most of my life. I dont label myself anorexic because I am not its just something I have I have put forth an intent that I will get rid of this illnesss just as if it were cancer or IBS (which I also have) or naything else
    I am too good and to close to God to be sick. If I am a child of the most high God then I need to be well so I can carry on the message of health and well being and educate the world that there is a good life out there I have been part of it and I ahve been at the bottom of it. I will rise again with the help of people like you and Heather and all the individuals that I learn from every day. My neighbor has lung cancer and he is very sick He is in UCLA for treatments rith now I pray for him every day I feel as if I have no right to be sick when I can be healed I have the tools. He is the one who needs our prayers and help and God I ask evryone out thee to pray for Steven Ganz and for his family. They deserve better
    Much love

  • christine

    Hi Karen! Thanks so much. Please email me your story! (As you know, I had eggplant to eat!) I’d love to read it. If you click on the “another teleseminar” link in my blog above, it will take you to Cheryl’s page that will have the link so you can listen to the call with Geneen. When I wrote this blog, it still wasn’t there yet. But it’ll get there this week.

  • Karen

    I loved reading in your blog and i really loved listening to you speak at Heathers cirecle yesterday I wish you could have stayed on the line to hear my story But I am learning a lot from you and yesterday you said the right things
    I still need to find that show with Cheryl and Geneen
    Much love

  • christine

    Yes, Susanne. Another thing that Geneen said is that willpower is a lie. I don’t know if it’s a lie for everyone, but I do know it doesn’t work for addictions! And one of the things I said to the group in this teleseminar is that so many women feel alone in this because so few people talk about it. Thanks for adding to the discussion and reminding folks that they’re not alone…

  • Susanne

    How people express themselves with food is a microcosm of how they live, and what they believe they deserve to have. Amen.

    I love Geneen Roth and reading her books may have helped me the most to overcome compulsive overeating. The best reason to talk about it is that there are a lot of women struggling with addictive eating and most of them think they’re alone.

    It can be very inspiring to hear from people like you and Geneen Roth who tell how they managed to heal themselves. You can think to yourself that it is indeed possible, and that it doesn’t require being super human.

    It took me years to figure out that one can be a compulsive overeater without weighing 200 pounds. And that it was not lack of willpower or discipline that made me use food in this way.